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Group takes credit for second research arson

June 6, 2001
Stan Clayton of Burton Brothers cleans up the rubble in the Institute of International Agriculture’s offices in 324 Agriculture Hall, after an arson fire on New Year’s Eve 1999 damaged the rooms. —

The Earth Liberation Front, which took credit for a 1999 Agricultural Hall arson, is claiming responsibility for a fire last month at the University of Washington’s Center for Urban Horticulture.

The group posted a statement on its Web site, saying members broke into the office of research Associate Professor H.D. Bradshaw on May 21. The site says Bradshaw is a “driving force in genetic tree research” and his work unleashes mutant genes into the environment, causing harm to forest ecosystems.

Bradshaw said while he is a plant geneticist, the work the group destroyed was a type of traditional plant-breeding, cross-pollination and DNA analysis on poplar trees.

“Classical molecular genetics is how it is usually described,” he said.

Bradshaw said he already has a new lab and office space, so he will be ready to continue his research in a couple of weeks.

“None of my research (was destroyed), everything was backed up on tape, none of the trees were damaged,” he said.

Bradshaw said he did lose things like lecture notes and slides.

Catherine Ives, director of the Agriculture Biotechnology Support Project at MSU and an associate professor, said she empathizes with Bradshaw.

“I think this is an attack on academic freedom,” she said.

Ives’ work was targeted in the Agriculture Hall arson, which destroyed the building’s fourth floor. She said her work, while agriculture-related, has no connection with Bradshaw’s.

“We look at agronomic crops,” she said. “We are looking at making better crops for the farmers to use.”

Ives said the purpose of the project is to make foods more nutritious for people.

The fire, she said, did not set back the actual program.

“We were up and back running in four to six weeks,” she said.

MSU police Lt. Mary Johnson said the case is still under investigation and has no evidence connecting the two fires.

Johnson said police do want students and faculty to be careful.

“We stress the ongoing security in all research areas and all buildings on campus,” she said.

Both Bradshaw and Ives have not let the ELF stop them from continuing their work.

“I will not let these anti-science bigots stop my research,” Bradshaw said.

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